Communication is one of the most important areas of business. Missed correspondences can often lead to missed opportunities. A slow response time may also leave an unfavorable impression on your level of professionalism. This is why reading and responding to emails are part of our daily routine. In the digital age, email has become the primary medium of communication.

However, as important as email is, it can severely impact your productivity. According to a study by McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), people spend 28% of their time during the workweek managing emails. In a standard 48- hour workweek, that is 13 hours or 2 hours per workday spent on the Inbox.

What can you do in 2 hours?

Let’s reference the study on “The Ultradian Rhythm” which disclosed that our brains can focus on a task for no more than 90 minutes to 120 minutes before requiring a 20 to 30- minute break or rest period. This means, 2 hours can give you enough time to accomplish one, and even possibly, two essential tasks.

7 Ways You Can Make Time Spent With Email More Productive

Despite email’s implications on business, it remains first and foremost, an administrative task. In other words, a non-essential task. If you spend too much time managing non-essential tasks, your day will become non-productive.

Is there a way to manage email effectively that it does not compromise your level of productivity?

Not just a way. How about 7 ways?

1. Create Different Email Accounts

The Inbox of your business email can be flooded with hundreds of messages on a given day. However, which of these messages are relevant to your business? How many messages are in response to a current need or concern?

If you took the time to filter through them, you may find out that a significant majority are not relevant to your business.

Some may be correspondences from family, friends, or are simply marketing content. Worse, you may come across a good number of suspicious email.

Creating different email accounts is an effective strategy for improving productivity.

First, you will have to establish the purpose of each email account. For example, in addition to your business email, create one that will be the destination point of correspondences from friends, family, and associates who are not connected to your business.

You may also consider creating emails for specific areas of your business. For example, [email protected] would be used for recruitment. Another one would be [email protected] for those who want to learn more about your products and services.

Lastly, be more judicious when giving out your business email address. Do not give your primary email out when signing up for newsletters. You can create another one such as [email protected]

2. Customize the Settings of Your Email According to Preferences

How proficient are you with the features of your email client? They have features that allow you to customize its settings according to your personal preferences. You can program your email client to move, organize, sort, and flag the messages in the Inbox.

You can also create specific lists for your email. For example, you can inform the email client of contacts that should be prioritized. Likewise, you can let the email client know of addresses and contacts you want to be blocked. In your “blacklist”, you should include people who are notorious for spamming activities.

There are email clients that enable you to create filters so you can sort out your Inbox automatically. This will save you the time in scrutinizing which emails to attend to first.

Another approach is to create specific folders to categorize and store the email you receive. For example, if you are managing multiple clients, you can create a folder for each of them.

When you receive an email, briefly scan the content then transfer it to the designated folder. It will be easier to find the email and go over it thoroughly when you finally have the time.

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3. Include Email Filtering as a Break Time Activity

In our article, “Top 7 Tips For Productivity”, we included a section on the use of focus blocks. A focus block is a period of time that has been dedicated to the accomplishment of a specific task.

It is based on the Ultradian Rhythm theory, whereby you should set aside 90 to 120 minutes of 100%, uninterrupted focus on the accomplishment of the task. Once the task has been completed, you should “reward” yourself with a 20 to 30 minute rest period or break time.

You can use the break time to eat, take a nap, or attend to any non-essential task. It would be a good idea to use the 20 to 30 minute break time to filter your Inbox. This way, email management will not intrude upon the time that has been set aside for productive activity.

Let’s assume that in an 8- hour workday, you have established a total of four 90- minute focus blocks. By using the 20- minute break time windows to check email, then total time spent managing the inbox would only be 80 minutes or 1 hour and 20 minutes.

If we reference the MGI study which showed people spend 2 hours per day checking email, then by using focus blocks, you can save 40 minutes per day. You can use the time savings to attend to other tasks.

It will not matter if you allocate the 40 minutes to non-essential tasks as the time saved came from your rest periods, not from productive hours.

4. Shut Off All Email Notifications

Notifications are great reminders but they can be a distraction when they pop up frequently. Not only will the email notification briefly take your mind off the task you are working on, but it may compel you to check and issue an immediate response.

Don’t just shut off email notifications on your PC desktop. Include your mobile phone too. While you’re at it, turn off all notifications coming from your other applications that are often. These apps normally include Skype, Slack, and Viber.

Like we discussed in the previous section, it would be more productive to read your emails during your 20-minute break time. You can also use your break time to check on your messages from the other apps.

5. Maximize Mobile

If you are one of the 80% of people who open their mobile phones first thing in the morning even before brushing their teeth, put the habit into good use by checking your email right away.

Mobile phones make it easier and faster to access your Inbox. Why is this so important? A study by Roy Baumeister revealed that your ability to make rational decisions declines throughout the day. Your capacity to process information may be at its strongest early in the morning.

What does this mean if you think you are not a “morning person”?

You don’t have to respond to an email right away. However, reading it first thing in the morning may allow you to process it more effectively because your mental faculties are still opening up.

Perhaps you will be in a better frame of mind to compose the appropriate response after 2 cups of your favorite coffee!

Another way you can use mobile to maximize productivity is to catch up on your emails while you are commuting to work. Spend your time at the train, the bus, or in the taxi going over your email. You can use the commute to categorize messages, send out reminders or quick responses, and to clear out your Inbox.

6. Don’t Read It?… Unsubscribe!

We have all subscribed to newsletters. For some time, we found the content relevant and useful in our business. However, its relevance could diminish over the years. Eventually, these newsletters will just accumulate and continually flood our Inbox with unwanted content.

If you have subscribed to content that you no longer read, then there is no more valid reason to grant the sender access to your Inbox. The best recourse is to unsubscribe to their mailing list.

If you have not been able to track all the newsletters you have subscribed to, use an app called unroll.me. This app will give you a summary of all the services you have subscribed to. You will have the option to unsubscribe from each service or to put all of them under one message.

7. Keep Your Responses Short and Concise

Email remains one of the most popular forms of communication because you can send quick messages in real time. When crafting a response or original content, it is good practice to keep its length short and concise.

Like you, the recipient of your email may also be facing the challenge of filtering out his/her Inbox. The recipient may have his/her own set of practices that allow email checking to become part of a productive day. Chances are, the recipient of your email will not have the time to go through a long email.

Is there an ideal length for an email? Yes, there is actual research which determined the ideal length of an email that gets the highest response rate from its recipient. According to the study, emails that have a word count of 75 words to 100 words received the highest response rate at 51%. The response rate at 50 words and 125 words is identical at 50%. However, there is a noticeable drop in the response rates when the word count was lower than 50 and greater than 125. What does 100 words look like? This paragraph is 100 words long!

Conclusion

Email is an inescapable reality of everyday life. You will rarely find a day where your Inbox has been zeroed out. For some people, clearing out the Inbox is like a game. They have to be able to clean out their messages at the end of the day.

This is why email presents a conundrum. It is a necessity; email is an important component of a business. Yet, it is also one of the leading causes of stress in the workplace!

A study conducted by Professor Tom Jackson from Loughborough University revealed that 92% of people get stressed out after receiving and reading an email in the workplace.

Thus, it would be advisable to spend as little time filtering email as possible. Another option would be to outsource email management to a qualified third-party service provider.

Bestselling author and productivity advocate, Tim Ferris, found his moment of clarity when he hired virtual assistants to manage his email and other non-essential tasks.

How about you? Do have you have any productivity tips on email management that we did not take up? Kindly share in the comments section below.

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Are you working on your business? Or are you working for your business? If you are spending more time pushing pencils than acting on tasks that add to your bottom-line, then you are working more like an employee than an owner of a business. Yes, we have to check our emails, manage our weekly calendar, and take phone calls. However, as important as these functions are, attending to them does not constitute productivity.

Productivity is associated with effective time management. How you allocate time to manage the tasks you need to accomplish every day will lead to greater productivity. While this is correct. it is not entirely the case. Productivity is also about efficient time management.

We have been conditioned to think that we should work eight hours a day. If you can efficiently manage the time you need to become productive, you won’t have to work eight hours a day.

When it comes to productivity, it is never about quantity. Quality should always be your primary focus.

It is not the number of tasks you accomplished but the type of tasks you finished that matter. It’s not the number of hours you spend working per day but how you spent those hours that count.

If you are not sure of how to attain this, take the time to read our top 7 tips to becoming more productive.

1. Outsource Non-Essential Tasks

The first step to productivity starts with identifying the non-essential tasks from the essential tasks. Non-essential tasks are functions that do not directly contribute to business growth. These tasks can be categorized as follows:

  • Administrative – Email filtering, appointment setting, calendar management, and phone handling.
  • Specialized – Social media marketing, content writing, SEO, graphic design, website management, and digital marketing.
  • Back Office – Accounting/ Payroll, Human Resources, and Information Technology.

Can you imagine having to do all of these tasks yourself? You won’t have enough time to manage the essential tasks or the functions that directly contribute to business growth.

Although they are categorized as “non-essential”, they are otherwise important because these tasks keep your business running. Your best option is to outsource the non-essential tasks to a qualified third-party service provider.

Contract the services of a Virtual Assistant. These are highly-qualified and well-experienced professionals who have made the move from the brick-and-mortar world to the Internet. Virtual assistants are no longer just personal assistants or secretaries. You can find one to handle any task you want to be managed.

Even if you have the experience, skill set, and training, you should not keep yourself preoccupied with the non-essential tasks. In addition to website management, we have had clients outsource specialized tasks such as SEO, digital marketing, content writing, and social media marketing to us.

These tasks require specialized skills and training. Likewise, you need to dedicate time to track and monitor performance. We have the skills and the experience onboard our team to oversee these functions for our client.

Outsourcing is a great strategy. It will help you streamline your costs without compromising your revenue-generating efforts. Best of all, it will increase your productivity by ensuring you have more time to manage the tasks that contribute to business growth.

2. Plan Today Yesterday

“Carpe Diem” is a popular saying in Latin. Translated to English, it means to “Seize the day”. You should start your day with purpose; know what you need to do so that you can accomplish more.

In contrast, if you wake up every morning not knowing what to do first, you will end up wasting time.

The most successful people in business and politics plan for tomorrow the night before. This way, there is no time wasted on guesswork. They get the day off on a flying start; their minds focused on the tasks that need to get done.

Before you end the evening, spend a few minutes planning your agenda for the next day. Review your objective for the week. Prioritize your tasks on the basis of this objective. Rank the tasks based on their importance.

Some people write down the tasks in their smartphone’s Memo app. Others will save them in a productivity app like Evernote. One of the most effective ways is to go old school. Write them down on a whiteboard. The tasks will be the first thing you’ll see in the morning. It will certainly wake you up faster than a triple-shot espresso!

3. Get Your Most Dreaded Task Out of the Way

In the previous tip, we recommended arranging the following day’s tasks based on importance. Another approach would be to prioritize the task you dread doing the most. Get it out of the way so you can focus on the other important tasks in your schedule.

For example, salespeople dread cold calling. However, it remains an effective technique for generating leads as well as converting interest into sales. Salespeople dread cold calling because the rate of rejection is quite high.

Plus, they have to deal with gatekeepers; usually, the receptionist or secretary who is dead set on one thing: to make sure the boss has a productive day!

Unfortunately for telemarketers, cold calling is best done during the first business hour of the day. This is the time when the gatekeeper could still be finalizing the boss’ itinerary for the day.

Closing a deal or making a sale is a game of opportunity where winners and losers are determined within seconds. A telemarketer who hesitates in making the cold call could be preempted by another telemarketer. The moment of hesitation could be costly.

If you want to be productive, do the most dreaded task right away. Who knows? It could be your day’s biggest accomplishment!

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4. Utilize Focus Blocks

Focus blocks are clusters of time that are allocated for specific tasks. While in a focus block, you cannot be distracted. You must be 100% focused. You should not leave your work area until the time allocated for the focus block has expired.

This means no breaks for coffee, water, snacks, or even the restroom. Did you watch the Will Smith movie, “The Pursuit of Happiness”? In the movie, Smith’s character, Chris Gardner, calculated the amount of time people waste going to and from the restroom and factored it in his work schedule.

How much time should you allocate for a task? According to sleep researchers, on average, we can maintain 100% focus for 90 to 120 minutes. To be sure, set aside 90 minutes per focus block.

Once a focus block is completed, take a break equivalent to one-third of its length. This will allow your brain to reset and get ready for the next focus block. Thus, a 90- minute focus block should be followed by a 30-minute rest period. During this time, you can have a snack, go to the restroom, check your messages, or better yet, take a short nap.

If you can accomplish just 3 focus blocks, you would have put in 270 minutes of productive time. That is 4.5 hours of productivity! So who says you have to put in eight hours of work per day to be productive?

According to productivity guru Steve Pavlina, the average American worker only puts in 90 minutes of productive time every day! For a 480-minute work day, 90 minutes only represents 17% productivity.

Again, think about the quality of work. Focus on what the tasks mean for your business. Will they bring me closer to achieving my goals?

If you accomplish 3 tasks that will significantly bring you closer to achieving your business objective, then you have a productive day. On the contrary, if you crossed out 20 tasks in your “to-do” list that are more administrative in function then what you had was a busy day. It was not necessarily productive.

5. Remove All Distractions

Let’s go back to Steve Pavlina’s study which revealed Americans only put in 90 minutes of productive time every day. Pavlina says the rest of the day is spent doing the following activities:

  • Surfing the Internet
  • Checking their social media status
  • Water cooler chatter
  • Coffee breaks
  • Taking snacks
  • Reading the newspaper
  • Taking naps

These activities are definitely not examples of productive behavior. Instead, these activities are prime examples of distractions. Yet, the United States remains the most powerful economy in the world!

Before commencing on work, remove all forms of distractions. Put away your smartphone. Close all of your social media pages. If you work with certain work-related apps open such as Skype, Slack, or Viber, leave a message about your current status.

If you have a secretary or a Virtual Assistant, ask them to just take messages. Make sure your assistant gets complete details on every important call.

6. Get Good Quality of Sleep Every Night

Sleep is an overlooked factor of productivity. Without enough sleep, you will not be able to function properly. Doctors consistently recommend getting 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep every night. If you are getting less than 7 to 8 hours, you could be exposing yourself to the following health risks:

  • High-blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Decreased memory function
  • Affected level of cognition
  • Depression
  • Mood swings

Sleep is your body’s time to recharge. If your body is not properly rested, its various systems may not function properly. People who lack sleep are more susceptible to acquiring diseases, illnesses, and infections because their immune system is compromised.

If you plan your day properly, you will have more time to relax and prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep.

7. Organize Your Meetings

If you manage a team, scheduling meetings is a great way to make sure everyone is on-board and on the same page. However, if meetings are not organized properly, they can be productivity killers.

Before you finalize the meeting, draw up its agenda. Identify the amount of time allocated per item. Prepare an outline of the salient discussion points for each item on the agenda. If you must, assign a discussion point to a team member.

Inform your team of the meeting by routing an email to each and everyone at least one week before its scheduled date. One week will be enough time for them to get ready.

Make sure your email has complete details: time, place, and items to bring if any. Remind everyone to be on time. If necessary, penalize those who are late.

Conclusion

Life is not just about work. If most of your waking hours are spent in the office and on your business, you are not being productive. It does not matter if your bank account is growing. If you are neglecting other aspects of your life such as family, friends, and health, you are not optimizing time that is available to you.

You are merely existing, not living.

Productivity means achieving a balance between life and work. If you follow our top 7 tips for productivity, you won’t have to work 8 hours every day to accomplish your business goals and objectives. Integrate focus blocks into your day, and you may only have to work 4 to 6 hours per day.

Assuming you get 8 hours of good quality of sleep every night, that means you will have 16 hours of daylight to get things done. By being productive and working only 6 hours per day, you will have 10 hours to do other things such as:

  • Have nightly dinners with the family
  • Attend your son’s baseball games
  • Watch your daughter’s piano recital
  • Take your spouse out for dinner
  • Exercise in the gym
  • Catch up on some leisurely reading
  • Take a vacation with the family
  • Learn a new hobby

Most of all… breathe! Relax and realize that you work to live and not live to work.

Do you have any great productivity tips that you would like to share? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.

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Let’s start out with a news flash: Stress is good for you!

Stress is your body’s natural reaction when you are faced with a pressure situation. Your body releases stress hormones called cortisol which functions to improve performance. When the adrenal glands release cortisol, your senses become heightened. You are more focused and your reaction time is faster.

A good example would be when you have a tight deadline to meet at work. You might need to burn the midnight lamp to get the job done right and on time.

Working under these conditions will create a stressful environment. Your body will respond by releasing cortisol to help you cope with the various stressors. You may notice that your level of concentration is higher. Cortisol has helped you accomplish the project on time without compromising the quality of work.

There are people who are able to thrive under pressure because they can manage the conditions that make the situation stressful. Thus, if you can manage your levels of stress at work, you should be fine.

However, prolonged levels of cortisol in your body are not good. In fact, it is not healthy as evidenced by the following negative effects:

  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Impaired cognition
  • Poor quality of sleep
  • Decreased bone density
  • Increased/ irregular blood pressure
  • Higher concentrations of abdominal fat
  • Imbalances in blood sugar levels

These negative effects may lead to illnesses and diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. It will also result in premature aging.

This is why one of the most stressful jobs on earth belongs to the President of the United States. It astonishing to see how fast American Presidents have aged while on the job.

Thus, while pushing yourself to overcome challenges and accomplish more tasks is admirable, in the long run it can have damaging consequences on your health. Instead of pushing harder, pull back, step on the brakes and think about getting more rest and relaxation.

7 Health Benefits Of Rest And Relaxation

Proponents of Behavioral Leadership, a discipline that advocates new results require new behavior, like to advise their clients to  “Slow down in order to speed up”.

They believe that for top-level executives and entrepreneurs to succeed, it is important to be in the best state of mind, body, and spirit so they can perform to the best of their abilities.

If these top-level executives and entrepreneurs are chronically fatigued from stress, their sense of judgment will be impaired. Likewise, they will be more prone to illness and disease due to having a weakened immune system. Some may even acquire unhealthy habits such as excessive drinking and eating to cope up with stress.

As we mentioned, stress has been linked to several deadly diseases. Your achievements will not be worth it if you end up paying for it with your health.

If your mind and body are showing the effects of stress, slow down and consider taking some time off from work. One of the best remedies for stress is to simply get more rest and relaxation time in.

Here are a few of the health benefits of getting more rest and relaxation:

1. Keeps Your Heart Healthy –

Stress can lead to irregular heartbeat and this is not good for your heart. Activities that promote rest and relaxation such as taking naps or getting more sleep can help your heartbeat return to normal and keep your heart healthy.

2. Strengthens Your Immune System –

Studies conducted at the Carnegie Mellon University showed that stress doubles the risk of catching a cold.

The reason is that stress increases inflammation in the body which weakens the immune system’s ability to fight off viruses. By getting more rest, you can help your immune system recover and become stronger.

3. Improves Cognition and Memory –

Studies on mice showed that stress can affect the function of the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for cognitive reasoning and memory.

If you’re suffering from a mental block, a simple 15 to 30- minute rest will suffice to get you up to speed. You will be able to articulate ideas much more clearly.

4. Lowers Risk of Stroke –

A study published in the 2011 Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine revealed that work-related stress was responsible for 10% of strokes.

Instead of spending more time at work, why not head off to the gym and get some exercise? If you have children, you can use the time away from work to do healthy, family-bonding activities such as hiking or mountain climbing.

5. Prevents Onset of Depression –

Prolonged stress has been proven to kill brain cells and prevent the creation of new ones. This can lead to behaviors such as loss of appetite, and feelings of hopelessness and sadness. Cumulatively these conditions can develop into depression.

If your situation at work is making you depressed, get away from it all by taking a vacation. A short holiday will clear your mind and keep your body rested.

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6. Helps You Maintain a Healthy Weight –

Stressors at work can develop triggers that lead to unhealthy habits. This is why many overworked people cannot wait to hit the bars for a few drinks or reach out for comfort food.

Cortisol can lower your metabolism which leads to higher accumulation of abdominal fat. Thus, when you are relaxed, your metabolism works more efficiently. You will also have less motivation to consume alcohol and unhealthy food.

7. Lowers Risk of Developing Cancer –

Although more studies need to be done, some research has shown a possible link between stress and certain cancers particularly breast cancer in women.

The bottom line is why take chances? It would be better to take a few days, even weeks away from work to get more rested and relaxed than potentially create conditions in the body that are ideal for developing cancer.

What Are The Best Ways To Rest And Relax?

The question may seem counter-intuitive considering that rest and relaxation are natural, learned examples of human behavior. However, many of us have forgotten how to rest and relax. We have been so caught up with our obligations to work that we have compromised our own abilities to get proper rest and proclivity to enjoy relaxing activities.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • On average, how many hours of sleep do you get every night?
  • Do you often wake up listless and lacking in energy?
  • When was the last time you exercised?
  • When was the last time you and the spouse had a relaxing dinner?
  • How long ago was your last vacation?
  • What was the last book you read?
  • When was the last movie you watched?
  • Are you attuned to the activities of your children?

These are normal activities that help us relax and get well-rested. However, many of us have taken these activities for granted perhaps thinking we can do these things on another day.

In the meantime, the cumulative effect of stress has taken its toll on our health and inevitably in our relationship with family and friends.

Of course, we are not entirely to blame. Technology has made it easier and more convenient for us to get things done in life and work. Unfortunately, instead of allowing us more time away from work, it has created a situation where we can do more things in the same amount of time.

In an increasingly competitive environment, it becomes harder to allocate time for rest and relaxation. We must simply do more to stay ahead of the competition.

In the end, we may pay the ultimate price with our health and overall well-being.

Now that we have read about the destructive effects of prolonged stress on the body, it is important that we commit time for rest and relaxation.

The question is, what are the best ways to rest and relax? It is a matter of individual choice. The most important thing is to find time for it. You should not just allocate, but dedicate time in your schedule for activities that promote rest and relaxation.

At Mountaintop, we have come up with a list of things that you can do to help you get better rest or find relaxing activity:

  1. Get 8 Hours of Sleep Every Night – Times may have changed but the science behind the ideal hours of sleep has remained the same. You should make an effort to get 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep every night. Sleep is your body’s natural way of recharging itself. Poor quality sleep will make you feel restless, inattentive, and irritable the following day.
  2. Schedule Time in the Day for Exercise – Regular exercise strengthens your muscles, bones, and the immune system. It will also improve blood circulation and help your organs function better. Exercise also releases mood- enhancing endorphins that make you feel good and fight off depression.
  3. Spend More Time with the Family – Time lost is time you will never regain. This is especially true when it comes to family. As your children grow up, they will go through milestones in their lives. You should be part of it. Regular communication is also important to maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse.
  4. Read a Good Book – Sure you can read a book from a tablet. However, nothing feels better than having a trade paperback in your hands. The smell of paper goes well with your favorite cup of coffee. Regular reading not only improves comprehension but it is very relaxing. That is why the richest people in the world like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg make an effort to read to read at least 50 books every year.
  5. Cut Down on Social Media – Social media is a great source of information, a terrific platform for communication, and is an effective channel to market and promote your business. However, it can also be toxic. If you often find your newsfeed inundated with negative content, you should either clean it up or cut down the time spent on social media.
  6. Schedule a Vacation During the Year – Taking a one or two-week vacation will not negatively impact your business. Vacations are a great way to recharge and revitalize your mind, spirit, and body. It can also be educational especially if you visit new places and learn about their cultures and traditions.
  7. Outsource Work – If you want to find more time to rest and relax, outsource some of your work. Among the types of work you should outsource are administrative functions and those that do not fall under your core competence. For example, if you plan to run a digital marketing campaign, outsource it to an agency so you can allocate more time to tasks that will contribute directly to your business’ bottom-line.

Conclusion – Get Some Rest!

At Mountaintop, we get a lot of projects that have tight deadlines. Digital marketing campaigns have to be tightly monitored. Analytics on performance are routinely made and discussed with clients. We manage a high volume of client websites and regularly run updates and improvements to ensure high-level performance.

Still, despite the hectic schedule, the people that make up the Mountaintop team make it a point to find time for rest and relaxation.

Founder Josiah Bussing and his wife, Jeanna, are avid mountain climbers which explain the name of their company. For them, climbing mountains is not only a great form of exercise but also presents new challenges to overcome. It gives them the time to clear their minds so they can perform to the best of their abilities. Mountain climbing is also an activity they share with their future children.

What about you? What activities help you relax? Please feel free and share in the comments section below.

If you want to learn more about outsourcing; how it can improve productivity and allocate more time for rest and relaxation, please feel free to give us a call or an email. We will get back to you as soon as we can!

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Leadership is an important component of management. Without it, there is no organization or direction. Instead, there will be chaos and confusion. Decisions cannot be made because there is no accountability. That is why leadership is one of the most sought-after traits in management. Companies spend thousands of dollars on programs that can help develop leaders within the ranks.

A group without a leader is just a collective. In the presence of a leader, the group becomes a team. Think about it. The most successful teams in professional sports were defined by its leadership. A good example was the Detroit Pistons team which won the NBA Finals in 2004.

The Pistons consisted of journeymen players; those who were discarded from their previous teams. In the 2004 Finals, the Pistons met the Los Angeles Lakers who were led by All-Stars Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. During the off-season, the Lakers signed two more All-Stars in Gary Payton and Karl Malone.

Detroit did not have All-Stars but was led by a veteran guard, Chauncey Billups whose strong but silent leadership style earned the respect of his fellow players. Billups recognized their strengths and harnessed them. He saw their weaknesses and accepted them.

In contrast, the Lakers’ All-Stars were feuding. Bryant and O’Neal both wanted the ball. Malone had an off-court altercation with Bryant. Payton wanted more playing time. Even the legendary coach, Phil Jackson, could not manage the players’ egos when it counted the most.

In the end, the Pistons beat the Lakers with Los Angeles only winning one game in the Finals. Billups was chosen Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP).

When you have a leader on your team, you do not need All-Stars because he/she will make everyone a superstar. A leader knows how to harness your strengths and takes the time to work on your weaknesses.

7 Leadership Styles: Which One Is Yours?

Are leaders born or made? That question has been the subject of much debate. There are people who seem to take naturally to leadership roles. They exude charisma, embrace challenges, and people tend to gravitate toward them. Some would say they were “born to become leaders”.

Then you have those whose leadership skills were honed from experience and years of study. They have been in the trenches and had the know-how to lead his/her people out of dire situations. Some would say they rose from the ranks because they “accepted the mantle of leadership”.

The truth is everyone has leadership qualities. A study by the University of Illinois showed that while there are some people who are predisposed to leadership, it does not mean that those who are not cannot acquire it.

It may just be that your leadership style is different. You could be manifesting leadership qualities in your day-to-day activities but it may not be perceived as clearly compared to other styles.

So which one is your leadership style? Here are 7 leadership styles that may represent your own.

1. The Democratic Leader

You are someone who likes to get everyone on the team involved in the decision-making process. Yes, you will ultimately make the final decision. However, you make sure every individual on your team has the opportunity to study the situation and present his/her opinion on how to best address the matter.

This style of leadership is one of the best and probably generates the most productive outcomes. People like to be heard. They want to be involved. Within an organization, subordinates want the opportunity to show management what they can do; how they think and approach problem-solving.

By soliciting the opinions of his/her people, the Democratic Leader shows that he/she recognizes their value to the organization. The Democratic Leader lets the people know, he/she cannot do this on his/her own. To succeed requires a team effort.

The Democratic Leader approach also reduces the risk of making costly decisions. Your people will view the situation differently. The benefit of being Democratic is that you will see solutions from different perspectives.

In many cases, this helps filter out potential flaws in the decision-making process until what you are left with is the best course of action.

2. The Autocratic Leader

The Autocratic Leader is the exact opposite of the Democratic Leader. He/she does not respect the opinions of others. The Autocrat will not consult the members of his/her team. The Autocrat will make decisions on his/her own.

This style of leadership is rarely, if ever at all, effective. It is typical of people who have a “Strongman” mentality. All you have to do is review world history and see how the Autocratic rule has failed their respective countries.

Even the Autocratic leaders of today; Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, Kim Jong-un of North Korea, Vladimir Putin of Russia, and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, have failed to improve the economy as well as the livelihood of the people.

Autocrats create dissension within the organization. It breeds contempt and polarizes people to segment themselves into different sub-groups. As such, there will be no strong foundation for the organization to support itself.

The single-decision maker system will likewise open the organization to incidents of graft and corruption. The Autocrat may abuse his/her power and introduce changes in the structure or current system to benefit personal interests.

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3. Laissez-Faire Leader

Laissez-Faire is a French word that translated into English means, “let them do”. A person who practices this leadership style essentially transfers the authority to make decisions to his/her people.

In some cases, companies allow employees to “self-govern” their work responsibilities in order to accommodate their current situation. For example, a worker who has to split time between the office and attending to the needs of a parent recovering from surgery.

Companies that have this accommodation follow the ROWE Concept or Results-Only Work Environment which was developed by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson.

In this type of program, employees are evaluated based on performance. The number of hours worked or the frequency of having a physical presence at work is not considered. GAP and the American Society of Clinical Oncology implement ROWE in the workplace.

Another variation of the Laissez-Faire style of Leadership is Holacracy which was popularized by Tony Hsieh for his company, Zappos. Holacracy is a form of decentralized management. There is no management team. Instead, the responsibility of making decisions is passed on to holarchy teams.

Likewise, there are no positions or individual designations. People are identified by roles that are determined by the team or holarchy.

Zappos has adopted Holacracy since 2014. However, it is not clear if the program has benefited Zappos and the employees. Reports have surfaced that employees have resigned due to greater pressures at work.

If you plan to implement the Laissez-Faire leadership style to your business, you should constantly keep track of the company’s performance. Make sure you are updated on every decision made by your people.

4. The Strategic Leader

The Strategic Leader is a person who attempts to find a balance, or an equilibrium point, between the interests of the company executives and personnel. Decisions are made on the basis of whether the course of action would protect the interest of one without compromising the interest of another.

Numbers are a key component of the Strategic Leader’s game plan. He/she likes to review numbers to have a good idea of the company’s financial position. This way, if the executives are proposing a course of action, the Strategic Leader can see if this can adversely affect personnel.

For example, the company executives plan a shift to capital or technologically intensive processes. The Strategic Leader would want to find out if such a move would lead to layoffs.

The Strategic Leader can be effective. However, because he/she positions between the executive and the interests of personnel, there will be situations whereby decisions cannot be finalized.

As a person of authority, you have to realize that you can never please everyone all the time. Over time, you may encourage people to believe they can always get their way and that can have disastrous consequences.

5. The Transformational Leader

The Transformational Leader believes that business conditions are always changing. The industry is in a perpetual state of evolution. There are always new developments and trends are constantly shifting. Therefore, he/she wants people to evolve with change.

The advantage of having a Transformational Leader is that he/she will not hesitate to invest in new training programs. The Transformational Leader does not want to be left behind. He/she wants the people to be ready and prepared to learn, understand, and implement new processes.

The great thing about a Transformational Leader is his/her willingness to invest in the human asset. However, pushing people to constantly learn new processes and systems may take them off their natural learning curve. It takes time to develop the skills necessary to become proficient at a new procedure.

Some people may have a difficult time transitioning from one school of thought to another. If you are a Transformational Leader, you may want to consider transitioning the new learning through a series of waves or teams.

Divide the organization into different teams. Segmentation can be based on years of experience or consistency of performance. Let Team #1 go through the new learning program.

Once they have completed the training, allow them time to implement the procedure. Evaluate the test results. If the results are in line with expectations, have Team #2 undergo the same type of training.

6. The Bureaucratic Leader

The three words that best describe the Bureaucratic Leader: By the book. If you base the finality of your decisions on existing company guidelines and policies, you are a Bureaucratic Leader.

Unlike the Autocratic Leader, the Bureaucratic Leader will allow his/her people to voice out their thoughts and opinions. However, if the recommendations run contrary to the company’s policies, the Bureaucratic Leader will shut them down even if these make good business sense.

During these times when the Internet and the continued evolution of digital technology have made innovation a necessity, the Bureaucratic Leader is ineffective. Rigid business modeling will not generate consistent results in constantly shifting business environments.

7. The Transactional Leader

The Transactional Leader is a person who likes to match performance with incentives. This leadership style is prevalent in sales departments where management will incentivize people with attractive commission rates and bonuses.

Providing incentive schemes are great. Most people work because they want to achieve financial stability. Evaluations that are based on incentives earned will also give irrefutable empirical evidence on an employee’s performance.

However, on the downside, the employee may associate his/her value with currency. The intangibles such as dedication, passion, respect for others, punctuality, and professionalism may end up swept by the wayside in favor of higher earnings.

It may also encourage a “win at all cost” attitude whereby employees resort to unscrupulous ways and means to achieve their targets.

Conclusion

In truth, there are no bad leadership styles. Whether your approach succeeds or not, will depend on how you apply your leadership methods. Amazon is a tightly-run ship and one can make the case that its CEO, Jeff Bezos, is an autocrat. However, no one can argue with the success of Amazon.

Virgin Group CEO Sir Richard Branson may be thought of as a Transformational Leader. He loves investing in his people’s training and in fact, is highly-involved with the company’s interesting management training programs.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has his office table mixed in with the rest of his people. Zuckerberg appears to be an example of a Democratic Leader. He likes to get his people involved in the decision-making process.

So which one best represents your leadership style? Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and opinions about this article in the comments section below.

And if you want to know how Mountaintop can help your business move to the next level of success, please feel free to give us a call or drop us an email. We will get back to you right away.

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Success in business is all about having advantages. People invest in education so they can increase their value when they apply for a job. You could take up special certification courses to validate your qualifications. However, in a competitive industry, you need an asset that will optimize your skills, education, and experience. This asset is a strong network of leads and referrals.

Why You Should Network

We discussed the benefits of networking for your business in our article, “How Can Networking Help My Business Grow”.  While we will no longer touch on the topic, it is worthwhile to put into context why you should network.

In website design, we advocate optimizing content for our clients. Optimization is an effective process of making sure the client’s content is searchable on the Internet.

Every day billions of content is shared through social media, email, chat forums, and other sources of information. It doesn’t matter how great you wrote your blog or how well-researched it was. It will not be found unless it is optimized.

Networking is a way of optimizing your overall value proposition.

Networking creates channels for your skills, experience, and expertise to be found and appreciated by potential partners, clients, or associates.

It will not matter if you garnered academic accolades at a university. Your achievements and contributions to your company’s success will not reap career dividends if you cannot connect with key people in the industry.

A person with lesser qualifications but savvy networking skills will gain a decided advantage over you despite your glowing resume.

3 Basic Principles Of Networking

Entrepreneurs understand the value of networking to stay ahead in business. They know the importance of establishing connections with people who could support their enterprise or career choices. Many of them dedicate time to networking activities. However, some are able to reap the rewards of networking better than others.

Whether you are planning to start a business or explore a new career opportunity, networking will help you achieve your goals and objectives. The key is to do it right.

Here are 3 basic principles to keep in mind when networking.

1. The Earlier You Network The Better

The earlier you start, the sooner you can build your network of connections. In fact, for younger readers who are still in school, you should network right now.

Start by establishing key relationships in organizations in your campus and in others. Join associations that bring together like-minded people across different universities.

There is no better time to start networking than right now. Networking is also a learned skill. The more frequently you network, the better you will get at it.

2. Qualify Your Connections

Don’t network blindly. Connect with people whom you believe have the skills, knowledge, experience, and yes, network, to contribute to your career or enterprise.

Before networking, create a profile of the ideal contact. What are their specific skills or expertise? What are their company designations? Which industries do they belong to?

3. Focus On Building Relationships

Establishing a network is not a negotiation where one party seeks to have an advantage over another in the agreement. It must be mutually beneficial to both parties. The foundation of a network will depend on the strength of its relationships.

Take the time to get to know the other person better. Find out who he/she is; what makes him/her get out of bed every day. Uncover what their goals are. By discovering the person behind the contact, you will have a better understanding if he/she will be a right fit for your own goals and objectives.

10 Effective Ways To Build A Strong Network Of Leads And Referrals

Now that you know how to approach networking, it is time to get connected! Put your plan into motion and start circulating so you can build a strong network of leads and referrals.

Here are 10 ways that you can network effectively and establish a good list of dependable contacts:

1. Take the Time to Attend Networking Events

In order to build your contacts list, you have to network actively. Networking events are happening every day. You just have to know where to look and whom to ask. Here are some organizations that you may want to approach and find out if they have networking events coming up:

  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Industry Associations
  • Trade Groups and Organizations

You could also ask people from your existing contact list whom you know frequently attend networking events for their suggestions. They might extend an invitation for you to attend some of the events they go to.

2. Join Organizations In Your Industry

It is likewise a good idea to join organizations that are involved in your industry. You will have opportunities to meet key influencers, successful business leaders, and top executives.

In addition to including them in your network, you could learn from their experience. Many of these key influencers are more than willing to share their knowledge and experience with new players and up and coming players in the industry.

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3. Get Referral Recommendations From Your Own Network

Sometimes the best contacts reside closer to home. Before looking at outside sources, review your current network. Identify contacts who may be able to give you referrals or an endorsement to a key person in your industry.

A referral is a powerful tool. It is basically a seal-of-approval from someone whom the key person or contact trusts. Getting a referral or an endorsement will help you bypass any qualification process that a contact may have in place.

4. Connect With Your School Alumni

Here’s another reason why you should start networking while still in school. The relationships you build while in school are traditionally stronger and long-lasting.

Recess-time discussions and hanging out may have seemed trivial back then. However, it’s the shared experiences that foster strong relationships that stand the test of time.

Do your best to stay active with your school alumni. If there are high school or college reunions, make it a point to attend. If possible, ask to be involved in the planning process assuming your batch has been tasked to host the homecoming event.

Even if you were not classmates, school alumni are generally very loyal and supportive to one another. Once a referred contact finds out you shared the same school, it becomes easier to break the ice and start a good friendship.

5. Focus On Establishing Quality Contacts

In networking, you should only keep in mind one rule: “It’s not how many people you’ve met, it’s whom you’ve met that matters.” One of the biggest misconceptions about networking is that it’s a game of collecting calling cards.

The quantity of contacts you add is not as important as the quality of contacts you make.

Remember our second basic principle in networking: Qualify your connections.

Before setting out for the networking event, do some research. Find out the following information:

  • Who is attending?
  • What companies will be represented?
  • What is the purpose of the networking event?
  • What is the agenda of the networking event?

From there, look into the backgrounds of the attendees. Read as much as you can about their companies; accomplishments, contributions to the industry, key people in the organization, and socio-civic activities.

Make a list of the people that you want to connect with. Don’t make it very extensive. If the networking event is one hour long, allocate 10 to 15 minutes per contact. At the end of the evening, you may have added 5 to 6 quality contacts to your network.

6. Assume the Protagonist Mindset

Having a protagonist mindset means looking for win-win situations. Successful networking isn’t just about finding connections that benefit your interests. As we mentioned earlier, networking isn’t a negotiation process where one party benefits more than the other party. You cannot build a strong relationship that way.

A potential contact will have an idea if you are trying to gain an advantage from the way you are navigating the conversation. Focusing the discussion on yourself, showing disinterest while the other person is talking, and cutting in during the conversation are clear signals that you are only interested in personal gain.

7. Take a Proactive Approach

People who attend networking events expect others to ask their help. Why not take a proactive approach and offer your help to the other person before being asked?

If during your talk, you realize that the other person may have immediate need of your expertise, go ahead and provide the assistance. This is an opportunity for you to show what you can do.

At the same time, it will start the ball rolling. If the contact is valuable, he/she will be more than willing to reciprocate and return the favor.

8. Facilitate Connections

You don’t have to secure an immediate deal or arrangement as proof of effective networking. You can likewise be a facilitator and connect a person you just met with someone in your network who can provide the needed assistance.

This is another way of being proactive. It will show that you are a valuable connection. The person you just helped will keep that mind and will not hesitate to offer his/her assistance in the future.

Your contact in your current network will also appreciate the referral. He/she will keep you top of mind when someone needs your knowledge and experience.

9. Be Active On Social Media

Networking is a social event. Social media gives you opportunities to network from home or the office. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and especially LinkedIn are valuable sources of potential contacts that can provide you leads and referrals.

LinkedIn has features that allow you to actively participate in your community and showcase your expertise. Content that is shared on LinkedIn is primarily business-related. Actively engage in threads; join focus groups and participate in discussions.

LinkedIn also has a blogging feature. Take some time to create and publish engaging blogs. Frequent blogging will help enhance your reputation and encourage people to reach out and establish a connection with you.

10. Reconnect with Old Contacts

Connections aren’t a one-time deal. It does not end once you’ve gained favor. Again, networking is all about building relationships. If you want a network of strong leads and referrals, you have to work toward building strong relationships.

Maintain relationships by finding the time to reconnect with old contacts. Invite them out for coffee or a quick lunch. Perhaps a round of golf or a few sets of tennis over the weekend. In some cases, a simple phone call to say “Hi” will do.

Conclusion

Networking is one of the most overlooked, yet important components of building a business. It is an activity that should never end. You should keep networking to keep your business growing. Every time you network is an opportunity to find a contact who can help take your business to the next level.

A strong network is one that has contacts who can consistently provide you with leads and referrals. It becomes dynamic; a self-sustaining network that continually looks for opportunities for others to benefit as well.

Effective networking is all about relationship-building. A strong relationship goes two-ways; it’s not always receiving, sometimes you have to give first. You should also be patient. Trust is an important trait of a strong relationship and it takes time to build trust.

Do you have interesting networking tips that you would like to share? Kindly post them in the comments section below. They may encourage other readers to reach out to you and establish a connection!

If you want to know more about networking and how digital marketing can help you build a strong following, please do not hesitate to reach out and contact us via phone or email.

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Texting may be the most popular form of communication, but when it comes to business, email is king. It should be no surprise that there are more email accounts in the world than there are subscribers to Facebook and Twitter combined.

What makes email so popular? It is fast, easy, convenient, and delivers communication in real time. You can attach files such as scanned documents, images, and spreadsheets. Best of all, it is a free service!

However, there are rules that cover proper etiquette when crafting and sending email. These are not “hard rules” but guidelines to make sure your emails are effective and will get the job done.

1. Keep Your Email Short

People check their inbox multiple times per day. However, that does not mean they like checking their emails frequently. In business, time is a valuable commodity. Given the number of emails your recipient receives, he/she would prefer to filter through the inbox as fast as possible.

If your email is too long, chances are the recipient will only skim through it. He/she will not bother with the details and just look for its salient points to understand the context. Thus, it is better to keep your emails short and to the point.

Here are 4 great tips on how to compose a short but effective email:

  • Start out by writing as much as you can then edit down the content upon review.
  • Use bullet points to organize your content.
  • Avoid prolonged introductions; after your salutation, state your objective right away.
  • Focus only on one subject matter.

By staying concise, you highlight only the important details and reduce the risk of any misunderstanding with its recipient. Short emails are also a sign of courtesy. It shows you value the recipient’s time.

2. Review Before Clicking “Send”

While your email should be short, it does not mean it should be exempted from review. Before clicking “send”, take the time to review your email thoroughly. Doing so will prevent the following embarrassing situations:

  • Sending out to the wrong recipient.
  • Failure to include attachments after indicating in the email that files will be attached.
  • Failure to put a subject matter.
  • Failure to correct errors in spelling and grammar.

Have you ever written an email when you are in an emotional state? We sincerely hope you did not send it!

Composing an email when you are highly emotional can lead to sending regrettable content. Remember that once you click “send”, there is no getting it back.

Instead of sending the emotional email out, get a good night’s sleep. When you wake up, you will be well-rested and in a better state of mind. Once you review the email you composed the night before, you will be glad you did not send it.

3. “Reply All” Only When Needed

We often receive emails that include other addresses. Sometimes these addresses are indicated as “copy furnished”. Does that mean that your reply should include their addresses as well?

It is not necessary to send your reply to everyone included in the original email. The sender may have furnished a copy to the other addresses only as proof an email on the specific subject matter was sent to you. Those who were furnished a copy do not have to receive your reply.

For example, a landlord or property lessor may send an email to a tenant reminding him/her of unpaid accounts. The landlord may furnish a copy to the property owner, accounting, and credit and collection.

The tenant does not have to send his/her reply to everyone on the original email. He/she can just direct the reply to the landlord. This way, the tenant can add details that may only be pertinent to the duties and obligations of the landlord.

4. Use Good Email Subject Lines

The subject line is the first item the recipient will see. If you want your email to be opened you need to use a good subject line to compel the recipient to initiate action.

How do you write a good subject line? Follow our 3 helpful tips below:

  • Keep the subject line to just one issue.
  • Get to the point; what is your email about?
  • Include a Call- To- Action; for example – “Urgent: Contract Signing – Please Update Your Records”

Using good subject lines will also help the recipient prioritize emails that need to be addressed right away.

5. Acknowledge Emails

For sure you’ve experienced not having your emails acknowledged by the recipient. You don’t know if they’ve read it or at the very least, seen it in their inbox. It’s not a very good feeling. It makes you feel that your email is unimportant.

It is common courtesy to acknowledge the receipt of an email. Even if you cannot respond to it right away, the sender should at least receive advice that you have read it and will attend to it as soon as your schedule allows.

Here is an example of a proper acknowledgement email:

“Hi Greg,

Thank you for your email.

I was able to go through it but not in detail. To give your email due courtesy, kindly afford me some time to digest the content and compose the appropriate response.

If you have not heard from me in 24 hours, please feel free to send me a response.

Thank you,

Bob”

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6. Respond Promptly To Emails

As a matter of courtesy, you should respond to emails within 24 hours. This is especially true for emails that are urgent. If the emails are not particularly important, a response should be delivered within 72 hours.

24 hours is the ideal time-frame. It should give you enough time to compose the proper response. In some cases, you may need to do some research or verify information that the sender has requested.

If you need more time to put-together all the information the sender is asking for, indicate this in your acknowledgement email.

It is always advisable to take your time in composing your response. Do not respond if you are not sure of the information you are providing to the sender.

Should you respond to unimportant emails such as those sent by marketers? The answer is “Yes”. Unless you have signed up for their newsletter whereby you can merely unsubscribe, for other marketing content, it would be a good idea to send a short response.

For example, you received an email from a supplier who is offering the latest dialer program for your contact center business. The contact may have gotten your email from a friend, associate, social media, or your website.

If you are not interested, you can send the following email:

“Dear Mr. Smith,

Thank you for considering our company for your dialer program.

However, at this time, we have no need for your product. Rest assured that should our business require your services, we shall contact your office.

Best regards,

Dan Jones”

By responding to the sender, you are informing them that you no longer wish to receive communication from the company until further notice.

7. Inform Recipient Of Attachments

One of the key features of email is that you can include attachments. These could be documents or images that you urgently have to submit to the recipient. However, these files could be quite large. In some cases, you may have to send multiple files.

Before sending out an email with attachments, inform the recipient especially if these files can take up memory. The recipient may not have the storage capacity for it and prefer another way of receiving your files.

You could do one of the following options:

  • Compress the files.
  • Open a file in DropBox or another file-sharing platform and provide a link to the recipient.

Ask the recipient if he/she is fine by these options. It is possible that the recipient is not familiar with compressed files or DropBox and may prefer a simple attachment.

8. Check For Spelling And Grammatical Errors

We briefly touched on this in rule #2, “Review Before Clicking Send”. Errors in spelling and grammar in whatever form of content is inexcusable and unacceptable.

It will always leave a poor impression on the recipient. Emailed content may be short, concise, and sometimes, informal in structure but it still represents you and your business.

You can download a copy of Grammarly which can automatically check your content for errors in spelling, grammar, and quotation marks. It will also suggest alternative words to improve your content.

9. Use All Caps Judiciously

Whenever you see text presented in an “All Caps” format, don’t you feel like covering your ears? Using all caps for your email is tantamount to shouting at your recipient. It may not be taken lightly.

You can use all caps to emphasize a word or a phrase and to abbreviate names of companies, organizations, and people. There are other options to consider such as italics or by underlining the word or phrase. Using bold type font is also effective in emphasizing a word or a phrase.

10. Include Your Email Signature

Your email signature officially verifies the authenticity of the communication. Don’t assume it is enough that the email originated from your address. Email is just like regular mail only in electronic format. Would you end your letter without a signature?

Gmail has features that allow you to customize your email signature. It should include the following details:

  • Professional Name
  • Title or Designation
  • Company Name
  • Website URL

You can even use your official handwritten signature if your webmail provider supports a stylus pen.

The accepted location of your email location is at the left-hand side, right after your concluding text.

Conclusion

There are other rules that you should follow although these do not directly affect the recipient.

For example, always update your antivirus and anti-malware programs. Email is the preferred avenue of hackers to steal data or corrupt your system.

Look for security programs that can encrypt outgoing emails. SecureZIP for Windows, Virtru, and Vaporstream are among the most popular email encryption programs you can consider.

Businesses should have a domain email and avoid using generic webmail addresses such as “yahoo.com” or “gmail.com”. Having a domain email is more professional and shows you are truly invested in your business.

Come up with a professional email address. It does not have to be overly formal or complicated. For example, [email protected] is perfectly acceptable.

Lastly, it should go without saying, but some people tend to forward suspicious email like chain mail, unverified reports, and hoaxes. Spurious emails can be annoying to the recipient. It is a waste of inbox space, time, and could place the recipient at risk if it contains malware.

Do you have email etiquette tips that you want to share? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.

If you are also interested in starting an email marketing campaign, please do not hesitate to give us a call or an email.

We will respond within 24 hours!

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Whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee, every day you put your best foot forward so you can come closer to realizing your career goals. You’ve identified the tasks you need to accomplish, scheduled meetings, and set time in the day to prepare all the needed reports. You may have forgotten an important item on the agenda.

Have you penciled in time for reading?

Decline In Reading Scores Traced To Less Time Spent On Reading

A study by the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) revealed that global literacy rates rose from 84% in 2014 to 86% in 2016.

However, a study conducted by the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) showed that reading in America has been on a steady decline the past 40 years. In 1982, the NEA survey estimated that 56.9% of Americans read at least one work of literature within the year. Fast-forward to 2015, and the number has dropped to 43%.

The lack of literary appreciation may have significantly contributed to the decline in reading scores of Americans. A global test performed by the Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRL) in 2016 showed that the United States trailed countries such as Singapore, Russia, and Ireland in reading proficiency.

A big part of the reason why Americans are reading less is multimedia. People spend more time on the Internet than with a good book.

A report by Zenith Optimedia revealed that from 2010 to 2015, consumption of online content increased by 105% while printed publications like magazines and newspapers declined by -23% and -31% respectively.

Why Today’s Most Influential Leaders Take The Time To Read A Good Book

If consumption of online content increased by 105%, shouldn’t that translate to higher comprehension levels since it is still a form of reading?

The answer is “Yes”.

And “No”.

Yes, consuming online content improves our knowledge, stimulates cognition, and makes us more learned individuals. However, having information accessible with a tap of a key or a click of a mouse removes a number of powerful attributes that help develop strength of character:

Discipline. Dedication. Self-Motivation.

Reading printed content takes more effort. If the font style is too small, you do not have tools that can increase its size unless you have a magnifying glass. It takes you out of your comfort zone; the computer screen where you can read hands-free and control the viewing experience.

With a hardbound book, you need to hold it between your hands, physically turn the page, and understand its words, paragraphs, and overall content without the convenience of launching a search query.

It takes discipline to remove yourself from the ease and comfort of an online environment. You need to stay dedicated to a reading schedule. Finally, you should be self-motivated to learn and become a better, more knowledgeable person by maintaining a reading schedule.

This is why many of today’s most influential leaders take the time to read a good book.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates makes it a point to read at least 50 books every year. Gates proudly shares his story of bringing a “sack of 50 books” whenever he travels. He successfully got Facebook founder and fellow billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg, to jump on the reading bandwagon. After a slow start, Zuckerberg has resolved to read a new book every two weeks which comes out to 23 to 25 per year.

Dallas Mavericks owner and investor Mark Cuban dedicates at least three hours every day to reading. Phil Knight, the owner of global superbrand Nike, claims to own a massive library whereby visitors are required to remove their shoes before they enter.

Billionaire investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett allocates 80% of his time reading paperbacks and other publications. Media mogul Oprah Winfrey is a strong advocate of reading. She makes monthly recommendations of her favorite books at her popular “Book of the Month” club.

Former NBA coach Phil Jackson, who won multiple championships with the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers, was an avid reader. Jackson noticed that players often lost motivation during the second half of the basketball season. He would handpick books and give them to players whom he felt would identify and find inspiration in its content.

Former United President Barack Obama was known as a voracious reader of books. Obama claimed that during his eight years at the White House, he always found time to read books. For Obama, books were a rich source of ideas and inspiration.

If today’s leaders in business and politics can find time in their busy schedules to read books, why shouldn’t you?

5 Benefits Of Reading

Digital technology has given us e-books that we can read from any mobile device. You can find just about any trade paperback in e-book format right now such as Kindle. Reading remains a pleasurable experience in any format. However, reading a regular book is a different experience altogether.

There are certain smells that trigger emotions and memories. The smell of a newly opened book; of a large bookstore upon entry and of freshly- brewed coffee permeating the air. Those who experienced a day at Barnes and Noble before it was rendered extinct by Amazon, know the feeling of offline reading.

It is this type of experience that drew industry leaders such as Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk, and Warren Buffett into starting a reading habit.

There are also other benefits that you can gain from reading. Benefits that will help you find success in your career and as a leader in your industry:

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1. Develops You Into A Better Thinker

A leader stays ahead of the pack. Therefore, you must always be updated with the latest information. Knowing trends and developments in your industry or area of interest will help you make educated decisions before anyone does.

Anne Cunningham who is an Associate Professor in Cognition and Development from the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a study which showed readers were excellent in analyzing information. This allowed frequent book readers to become better decision-makers than non-book readers.

What separates leaders from followers is that they are able to see opportunity while others see only failure.

The fear of risk is comfortably managed because they are able to use their knowledge to weigh costs versus benefits. Before they initiate plans into action, risk management procedures would already be in place.

2. Builds Your People-Skills

Book readers are often unfairly labeled as anti-social or introverts. People think all they do is read books and nothing else. As most leaders will attest, book reading will improve your people or social skills.

A story is a text representation of a world from the eyes and mind of its author. When you read books, you live vicariously through the author’s filter. You see his/her perspective and compare them to yours. It helps you understand and appreciate the opinions of others.

Thus, when you are dealing with your people, you communicate with them with an open mind. Instead of criticizing, you develop empathy. You allow them the opportunity to contribute and generate feedback. Meetings become more productive instead of a venue for argumentation and debate.

3. Stimulates Creativity

Reading stimulates creativity because it encourages your imagination to keep flowing. Words are processed and depicted in imagery in our minds. In some cases, we become challenged by the opinions expressed by the author. How many times have we questioned and criticized the works of an author, yet recommended the book for others to read?

Creativity is an integral component of leadership because it allows you to “think outside the box”. Creativity starts off with a series of questions; of how we can make things better. Sometimes the best solutions are not found in black and white. You might find them in the grayest of areas. Only those with a creative mind can filter out the smoke and find what others cannot see.

4. Strengthens Analytical Skills

Haven’t you experienced reading a sentence or a paragraph, then find yourself going back to try and articulate what you just read. Reading is a constant process of analysis. You are trying to decipher and understand the information provided by the author.

Studies have shown that reading regularly not only makes you smarter but also improves your abstract reasoning skills. It is a cycle that involves receiving and assimilating information.

In business, you frequently encounter situations that require precise decision-making. If you can break down information and process potential scenarios from various courses of action, you will be able to come up with the decision with the most favorable outcome.

5. Reduces Stress Levels And Improves Mental Health

Running a business or putting in the hours at work can be very stressful. The decision-making process itself takes you through several stages of stress; from problem identification to proposing courses of action to risk assessment then finally implementation. Stress can break your mind and body down. It will hamper your ability to lead if both your physical and mental health are compromised.

Reading is an escape. It takes you away from the world you are in and into one that is created by the author. It is a great way to relax and de-stress. Enhance the experience by finding your favorite nook and consume your book with a nice, warm mug of brewed coffee.

Conclusion: How To Build A Reading Habit

Did our article get you interested in starting a book-reading habit? It is not hard to get going once you commit to the idea of reading as a form of self-improvement. Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Overcome Biases – Some people are hesitant to read because they believe it takes away productive time from work. As we have shown you, reading has many benefits. It can make you smarter, more knowledgeable, more creative, and a better analyst. Thus, wouldn’t that make reading a productive activity?
  2. Read A Variety Of Content – It is perfectly fine to start reading topics you are already familiar with. However, once in a while, pick out a topic that is completely new to you. This will make require greater focus and dedication. For Mark Zuckerberg, it was social studies. What topic would take you out of your comfort zone?  
  3. Read To Have Fun – Reading doesn’t have to be an intellectual exercise all the time. Read to relax and have fun. Pick up a book that makes you feel good.

What about you? How many books do you read per month and what are some of your favorite titles? Please feel free to share your reading experiences in the comments section below.

If you want to know how storytelling can be a powerful driver of your marketing content, give us a call or drop us an email. We would be happy to assist you in getting your content seen and read by a wider audience.

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A popular saying in business is “It’s not what you know but who you know that matters.” The obvious connotation is that having connections will help your business go further and stay ahead of the competition. Assuming the playing field is equal in skill and technology, your ability to network and establish the right contacts in the industry could be the difference maker. Thus investing time in networking activities could help your business grow.

What Is Networking?

Networking is the process of interacting with people within an organization where there is a shared interest of establishing mutually beneficial relationships that could lead to business opportunities. Once you have acquired a sizeable network, your objective would be to leverage these connections to open up new streams of revenues for your business.

But many people get frustrated with networking. They view the activity as a waste of time because nothing was accomplished. The problem is they view networking as a social event not a business building opportunity.

So they take off from work and attend a networking function. They enter a room packed with industry movers and shakers. For the next 2 hours they shake hundreds of hands and collect a stack of calling cards. A few drinks and platefuls of hor d’oeuvres and they call it a night.

What has been accomplished? The success of a networking event cannot be measured in terms of calling cards collected. A calling card is nothing more than a piece of paper with a name, address and contact details printed on it. There is no relationship with a calling card. The question to be answered is, “How did your interactions create opportunities for business growth?”

As John Bennett, director of the Master of Science and executive coaching and assistant professor of behavioral science at the McColl School of Business at Queens University at Charlotte said:

“Between 60% to 80% of jobs are found through personal relationships.”

Keep in mind that not everyone who attends the function can contribute value that will move your business forward. That is why networking should be approached with strategy and purpose.

You should be mindful about your interactions; the people you meet, the relationships you establish and how you navigate these connections to achieve business growth. Everything that you plan to do at the networking event must be driven by your intent to expand your business.

Online Networking: Reach Out To More Qualified Connections

The Internet has made networking easier, convenient and more efficient through social media, email and professional networking sites. You can reach out to key people in your industry and connect with potential customers from the comforts of your own home.

In fact, with online networking, you don’t even have to actively seek out connections. If are consistently publishing and sharing content that are well-researched, keyword-rich, relevant and usable, people within your industry or community will be the ones to reach out to you.

And there are other advantages with online networking:

1. Qualify Your Connections –

Networking through online channels gives you the benefit of qualifying the people you want to connect with. For example, at LinkedIn, you can set the parameters of your contact search based on the following criteria:

  • Industry
  • Designation
  • Country of Origin

Once you type in the details, LinkedIn will curate a list of candidates that fit your desired profile. You can also join focus groups that are involved in your industry.

Active members of these focus groups will frequently start a discussion on a topic that could be trending in your industry. Share your expertise by regularly participating in the group discussions.

2. Network At Your Own Convenience –

You can set aside time in the day or night for your networking activities. If you plan to use social media as your main avenue for networking, studies have shown there are preferred times for engaging in each platform:

Social Network:Days of the Week:Times of Day:
FacebookSun, Thursday, Friday, Saturday9am, 1pm and 3pm
TwitterWednesday12pm, 3pm, 5pm, 6pm
LinkedInTuesday, Wednesday, Thursday7am, 12pm, 5pm
PinterestSunday, Saturday2pm, 9pm, 2am
InstagramMonday, Thursday2am, 8am, 5pm

Come up with a fixed schedule for networking. You can allocate one hour in the morning, afternoon and before bedtime. If you’re not posting or sharing content, try to connect with at least five people in the community every day.

Networking is a game of probabilities. If you send out 150 invitations to connect in LinkedIn every month and assuming a low success rate of 20%, you should have 30 new contacts.

3. Build Up Skill Levels –

Online networking is the ideal option for those who are not comfortable meeting people for the first time. Exchanges are done through the platform usually through engagement, personal messaging or InMail as with LinkedIn.

If you or your contact schedules an online call, you can prepare a set of questions, rehearse your approach and have notes about the contact and your business available nearby.

However, most if not all first time interactions online are done through video. While chat messaging is perfectly fine, face-to-face interactions come across as more sincere and authentic. Popular video conferencing sites include Skype, WebEx and GoToMeeting to name a few.

Networking online would be a great way to build up your interpersonal skill levels. Put it this way, you would probably attend two traditional networking events every month. But you could be having video conference calls on a daily or weekly basis.

5 Benefits Of Networking: How Networking Can Grow Your Business

Most people limit their networking activities at the startup stage. Once the business starts to gain traction they pull their foot off the pedal and shift their focus on running day-to-day operations.

Truth is you should never stop networking because there will always be opportunities available to grow your business. Networking helps you find these opportunities before your competition does. And it’s always just about finding new clients and customers.

Here are 6 benefits of networking that will help grow your business:

1. Generates Referrals

When people say they network to get connections, they mean it helps them generate referrals. To grow your business, you need to look at both sides of the profitability equation: cost and revenues.

Networking will introduce you to other businesses that can reduce your costs or add to your streams of revenue.

When you are frequently networking you are bound to run into someone who can refer you to an associate, a colleague or a supplier that can provide what you need at lower prices or prospects who may be interested in your kind of services.

The best part of networking is that the referrals have been pre-qualified. They can give you a personal introduction or endorsement to improve your chances of securing a meeting. There is no need to get past the gatekeepers who make it difficult to reach the main decision-makers.

2. Opens Opportunities

One of the best ways to network is to join organizations, associations or focus groups that are specific to your industry or have a common interest. These types of organizations are usually composed of highly motivated people who want to find new avenues to grow their business.

For example, you are thinking of crowdfunding an idea. A networking event is the appropriate venue to share your concept, vision and purpose for the product or service. You may meet people who would be interested to invest in your idea and bring it to fruition.

Another example would be if you are looking for strategic partners for your business.

Let’s say you want to streamline operating costs by outsourcing back-office work. By engaging regularly with an outsourcing focus group on LinkedIn, you may find a third party services provider that can effectively handle all of your Accounting, Human Resources and IT needs.

3. Helps You Gain Valuable Insights

Many networking events particularly those hosted by chambers of commerce invite key resource speakers. These are highly-successful business people who have made an impact in their respective industries.

Networking gives you the unique opportunity to meet up with these influencers up close and personal. You can learn their secrets to success particularly how they survived and thrived during the most difficult economic periods.

You can also connect with them on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Every few days you will receive useful advice from the likes of Sir Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

But it’s not just from the tycoons that you can learn valuable lessons from. Within the community, there are people who have gone through adversity and difficult times while running their business. You can likewise gain valuable insights and share commonalities from their stories and experiences.

4. Enhances Your Visibility

As you attend more networking events or engage frequently with your social media community, you enhance your visibility. People will have a better understanding of who you are, what your business is all about and your capabilities in the industry.

You stay top-of-mind with many community members that if they hear or know of another business that needs your expertise, they can easily give you a referral. Regular networking can also lead to more website visits and additional likes for your social media pages. It might even give your website a boost in the search rankings.

5. Increases Confidence

Do you believe in the saying, “Personal growth precedes business growth?” What this means is that if you want to take your business to the next level, you have to first overcome your personal fears and self-limiting beliefs.

Networking can be a nerve-wracking experience for those who are not used to circulating within a community. But like every other skill, you must network constantly to become more proficient at it.

As you gain confidence, your networking approach becomes more natural. You will notice that people become more receptive to your ideas. The more you network, the more the process is hardwired into your system.

Conclusion

The key item to remember about networking is that you should focus on building relationships first. If you go into a networking event with your marketing machine firing on all cylinders promoting your business, chances are you will drive away opportunity before it knocks on your door.

A good way to view networking is to think of it like a dance. You have to lead your partner to where you want him/her to go.

Become a good listener, process the information, identify opportunities and once you find possible alignment, interject your value proposition.

You may end the evening or the online conference with nothing more than an assurance that they will keep your business in mind. Don’t feel dejected. It now becomes a matter of following up; nurturing the seeds that you planted so that your business will grow.

And it certainly is better than acquiring a stack of calling cards.

Do you have networking experiences or tips that you want to share? Please feel free to comment below.

If you want to know more about networking and how it can help your business grow, please don’t hesitate to contact us or send an email. We would love to hear from you!

Technology is a double-edged sword; it can be your friend or foe, depending on who wields it.

Exhibit A is mobile technology. It has made communication more convenient and gives you easy access to the Internet. However it has also made you more accessible to telemarketers.

Exhibit B is email. Compared to the days of regular mail and fax machines, email has significantly improved productivity. You can bridge contacts located thousands of miles away simply by clicking “Send”.

But it has also flooded your Inbox with junk mail from people who may be clicking “Send” from a computer located thousands of miles away.

While advances in digital technology have made life and work more efficient, it has also given us additional digitized nuisance to deal with. The good news is there are tools and processes you can use to manage the number of unwanted calls and junk mail you get.

How to Avoid Unwanted Calls

Telemarketers are just regular people. Like you and I, they have a job to do. Unfortunately, dealing with them can be like dealing with a bad stomach. They can strike anywhere.

You could be in the middle of an important meeting; about to deliver the deal making pitch, when your phone starts to ring or vibrate.

You could have just arrived home after navigating through heavy traffic for 2 hours. All you want to do is to pour a tall cool one, plop your feet up the ottoman and rest your weary head. Then the phone rings.

You could be at home on a Sunday. Everyone is gathered around the television for Sunday Night Football when your phone rings. You decide to answer it and the person on the other line says:

“Good morning sir! How are you doing today? I hope I did not catch you at a bad time. If you can give me just a few minutes, I would like to discuss with you a wonderful opportunity/ investment/ product that would make your life better. This conversation is being recorded to ensure accuracy of all information provided. Interested? Good! But first please take a few minutes to answer a few questions: What is your full name?”

If the spiel just raised your blood pressure a few digits, then you know exactly what we mean when we say telemarketing can be a digital nuisance.

Of course, you have the power to simply say “Sorry, I’m not interested”. But some can be very persistent:

“May I know why you are not interested?”

“You can try our services for free. You have absolutely nothing to lose. If you don’t like it, we’ll simply discontinue the service.”

“Can you refer me to friends or associates who may be interested? I can give you a referral bonus for every successful transaction.”

From that point, exchanges can become testy as the recipient’s stress levels start to approach the danger zone.

The rising volume of complaints from consumers on unsolicited calls from telemarketers led to the establishment of the national Do Not Call or DNC registry.

Everything You Need to Know About the National DNC Registry

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) opened the national DNC registry on 27 June 2003. The bill covering the registry was called the Do-Not-Call Implementation Act of 2003 and was signed into law by then President George W. Bush on 11 March 2003.

Although the registry was opened on June 27, enforcement of its rules only took place on October 1. Initially, numbers registered on the DNC registry had a validity period of 5 years. But an amendment to the original bill, the Do-Not-Call Implementation Act of 2007 made registration permanent.

To be part of the DNC, all you need to do is to register your landline or mobile number.  

However, if you think registering your number will end all unsolicited calls, be advised that the DNC also has restrictions in place:

  1. The registry only applies to personal calls; not to business lines or business to business calls.
  2. You can still receive calls from political organizations.
  3. You can still receive calls from non-profit organizations.
  4. You can still receive calls from groups that are conducting surveys.
  5. You can still receive calls from a company up to a period of 31 days from the date you submitted an inquiry into that company unless it was specifically asked not to call.
  6. You can still receive calls from bill collectors.

You can file a complaint regarding telemarketing practices that are in violation of the DNC registry with the FCC. When filing a complaint, make sure the following details are included:

  • Date of call
  • Number called
  • Name of organization calling
  • Products and/ or services offered
  • If caller has exemption status

Did the national DNC registry have a significant impact on the volume of telemarketing calls made?

According to the 2009 Economic Report of the President, 77% of Americans who registered their numbers with the DNC reported a marked decline in the number of telemarketing calls received. One year after the implementation of the act, the number of calls consumers received per month dropped from 30 to 6.

How to Reduce the Number of Junk or Spam Email

If marketers and other soliciting parties cannot get to you via phone, they will try through e-mail.

E-mail remains the most popular form of communication even among text-savvy millennials. According to a study by The Radicati Group, more than 225 Billion emails are sent every day and this number is expected to hit 246.5 Billion by 2019.

In addition, people check their e-mails multiple times a day which makes it an ideal platform to send junk content. Landing on the Inbox is tantamount to having your foot inside the door. All the recipient has to do now is to click on it.

The popularity of e-mail has made it an attractive target for spamming activities. Spamming is defined as the practice of flooding the inbox with unsolicited emails in an attempt to force the message on someone who otherwise would choose not to receive it.

In the study by The Radicati Group, the number of spam e-mails received has been rising on a yearly basis. Of the 122 Billion e-mails received/ sent in 2015, 12 Billion or 9% were categorized as spam.

But in 2017, out of 126 Billion e-mails received/ sent, 16 Billion or 13% were identified as spam.

If checking e-mail is number one on your daily to-do list, spamming can seriously impact your productivity. Imagine filtering through multiple unopened e-mails per day and most of them feature spam content.

How do spammers get your e-mail address?

Spammers can create lists by searching online for e-mail addresses. Online directories are good sources. They could put up bogus websites for the purpose of luring visitors then securing their e-mail addresses with enticing calls-to-action. They could also buy the mailing list directly from online retailers.

Generally the more often you engage or participate in online activity, the greater the risk of your e-mail address getting acquired by unauthorized parties.

Here are our 3 tips on what to do when you receive e-mail that appears to be spam:

  1. Do not respond to the email because those in the thread will also receive your message and trigger another round of Inbox flooding.
  2. Do not follow stated instructions to “Unfollow me in your mailing list” because this may result in a bounced e-mail message to you and will make it seem your account is active.
  3. Open up your Junk E-mail Filtering feature or if you have a Virtual Assistant, ask him or her to regularly filter your e-mail for you.

Is it possible to totally stop spammers from infiltrating your e-mail? Unfortunately the answer is “no”. Anyone who has an e-mail is a target.

However you can drastically reduce the incidence of receiving spam by following our 6 simple guidelines:

1. Work with your filter 

Most e-mail clients have default filter programs that automatically transfer suspect communication from your Inbox to a “Spam” folder.

However it doesn’t always get it right. If you find a message that reads like spam to you but was not detected by the filter, report it to the client.

In the same manner if the filter transferred communication to the Spam folder that is not spam, notify the client by clicking the “Not Spam” button.

2. Do not click on it

As the kitchen saying goes, “When in doubt, throw it out.” The same policy should apply when dealing with spam e-mail.

Only the sender knows for sure the motive for transmitting it. If the suspicious e-mail uses the address of your contact, verify the transmission from him or her.

Spam emails can be used to deliver a virus or malicious software that could steal information or corrupt your system.

3. Be judicious with your e-mail

The less you expose your e-mail address the better. Unless it is absolutely essential to your business, do not include it in your social media profile. Or you could open another e-mail address specifically for that website.

4. Be selective when participating in online activities

There are sites that attempt to acquire your e-mail address through games and other online activities.

These games prey on the inner narcissist with titles like “Which Hollywood Hottie Do You Look Like?” or “Which Marvel Superhero Best Suits Your Personality?”

While it may seem fun to share with your friends that technology found compelling evidence that you look like Scarlett Johansson or Chris Hemsworth, stroking your ego could end up compromising your privacy.

5. Add another e-mail filter

There are third party service providers who have e-mail filtering software that can augment the capabilities of your client’s default program. One of the best is BoxBe which comes with a guest list feature.

If you receive e-mail from anyone who is not in the guest list, they will be asked to undergo a verification procedure. Those who pass will have their e-mail sent to your Inbox.

Those that did not pass the verification process will be stored in a folder marked “Waiting List” which are all subject to your approval.

6. Change your e-mail address

If all fails, bite the bullet and change your e-mail address. Once you do, adopt the rest of the measures we provided to make sure you don’t get flooded with as much spam messages as before.

Conclusion

The fight to keep telemarketers off your mobile phone and spammers from your e-mail should be thought of as winning the battle but never the war. Big data means big bucks for these unwelcomed guests. They will use technology in the same way you do: To increase productivity.

Your best approach would be to remain cautious on your online interactions and to maintain vigilance when it comes to protecting your privacy.

If you want to know how we can help you minimize intrusions from telemarketers and spammers, please give us a call or an e-mail.

And if you have other tips on data security that we did not cover in this article, kindly share them in the comments section below.

We would love to hear from you!

Technology works to make life easier and work more productive. But sometimes it feels that it has also created a life and work conundrum because technology makes it possible for you to do more things in the same amount of time.

There are days where we just find ourselves dragged down with so many things to do, it becomes difficult to know where work stops and life begins.

The best way to make technology work for you is to embrace all of its possibilities. Software companies understand this because their job is to develop programs that will contribute to greater productivity and better convenience.

According to a 2015 study made by Pocketgamer.biz, software developers create 1,000 new apps everyday. In 2008, the Apple App store had a total of 10,000 apps available for download. By the time of Pocketgamer’s study, the number of apps at the Apple App store had grown to 3.3 Million!

Google Play Store had a total of 3.3 Million apps by September 2017.

Apps have become indispensable because they make it possible for anyone to achieve life and work balance.

Need a ride to work but are worried taxis may not be available? Don’t worry, download Uber on your smartphone and the app will locate the Uber driver nearest your location and send him or her to your place in no time at all.

You can find an app for nearly anything you need to do at work or at home.

Here are eight of the best apps you should have on your mobile device to guarantee a stress- free life:

Top 8 Apps to Make Work More Efficient and Have a Happier Life

1. LastPass

In a technologically-driven world where everything you hold near and dear is stored in a digital platform, the first app you should have is one that protects all of your information.

We wrote about the importance of using a Password Manager in our article, “Why You Need a Password Manager Now”. LastPass is one of the best password management programs you will find in the market.

LastPass was introduced in 2008. It will store and automatically login your username and password credentials for social media, email and other websites that you frequently use.

What makes LastPass better than other password managers? When you are entrusting your information to one digital service provider, security and protection should always be your primary consideration.

LastPass stores your information in a format that makes it difficult even for the National Security Agency (NSA) and the company itself to read.

In 2015, there was a reported breach in security but LastPass’ Two-Factor Authentication (TFA) kicked in which prevented hackers from gaining access to the treasure trove of passwords.

As we discussed in our article , “How to Protect Your Website from Hackers and Spam Attacks”, hackers are relentless. They will stop at nothing to get your information to meet their selfish interests.

Having a password manager like LastPass is a step in the right direction to ensure the protection of your online data.

2. Hootlet

Social media is no longer just a tool for connecting with long lost loved ones, posting images of your vacation or a digital soapbox to share your latest politically- charged rant.

It has become a valuable tool for businesses to generate revenues by marketing and promoting products and services. Businesses also utilize social media to enhance their online presence by posting relevant content, sharing advocacies and engaging their followers regularly.

But it can be time consuming checking 3 to 5 social media platforms for the latest updates everyday. This is where Hootlet becomes an important app for you.

Hootlet is an app from HootSuite, one of the most respected and reputable social media management companies in the world. It was founded in 2008 by Ryan Holmes and is the preferred platform of choice by the Obama administration, Martha Stewart Media, Virgin Group and HBO, among others.

Here is a rundown of what Hootlet can do for you:

  • Share any webpage to all of your social networks with a single click;
  • Schedule the publication of all of your updates;
  • Google search all the relevant tweets;
  • Access Yelp to find the best restaurants in town;
  • Do a Tweet search in any area simply by putting the location on Google Maps.

With Hootlet, you don’t have to visit each and every social media network. Hootlet brings them to you!

3. Evernote

We wrote extensively about Evernote in our article, “How to Organize Life and Work with Evernote”. If you want a refresher course on Evernote, simply click on the article title.

But we can’t stop raving about this amazing app because it is a proven time saver and will greatly increase your level of productivity.

Evernote is generally an online note- taking application but is packed with so many features that you can use it for basically anything you need to do at work or in your daily life.

One of its most valuable features is the Evernote Web Clipper.

People use the Internet to search for information all the time. Sometimes you might stumble upon information that has relevant and usable content but don’t have enough time to properly digest it.

Enter Evernote Web Clipper; a browser extension that allow you to snip off information, have them catalogued neatly and accessible by any device. If there is a section in the article which you find particularly useful, you can highlight it or mark it with arrows and text.

Do you want to share this bit of information? Evernote has features that will let you share any article, text or image via email or social media.

4. MooVit

Public commuters have to go through the daily grind of getting to a transport station, lining up and while queuing hope that a seat will be available by the time he or she gets inside the bus.

But it can’t always be Christmas and you may find yourself standing up for the duration of the long ride to the office.

MooVit is an app that makes the commute a much easier experience. It will give you real time public transport information plus GPS navigation. This way you will know where the nearest bus stops are and more importantly, the least crowded routes!

How does Moovit do it? It coordinates and collaborates with transportation operators to get public transit data and also utilizes crowd sourced user data.

 5. Waze

Looking for your destination no longer has to seem like a challenge from “The Amazing Race”.

Waze claims to be the world’s largest community- based traffic and navigation app. Basically it crowdsources real- time information and road conditions to help you find the best routes to get to your destination faster.

A team of map editors are constantly working to update changes in Waze’s maps so you can have the most effective route available all the time. Those who have used Waze have raved on how much the app has helped them save time and gas money.

You can also use Waze to synch travel times if you and your friends are traveling to a specific destination.

6. Trip Advisor

Are you going on a business trip or on vacation? For sure you would always like to know the best places to stay, dine or be entertained.

TripAdvisor is an app that makes it easy to find what you are looking for and secure the best deals so you can stay on your budget.

Trip Advisor compiles reviews, opinions and photos from its community of over 500 million users. You will know which airlines have the lowest rates, the best hotels with vacancies and fun activities you and your family can do while in town.

You can also share your own reviews and upload photos of your trip to help other community members.

7. Life360

Life360 is a valuable app for those who seek to find a balance between family and work. It can be quite challenging especially for parents who both work, have a tight calendar and whose children follow different schedules.

With Life360 you can keep track of everyone in the family without having to send out the message “Where are you?” every few minutes. For busy parents, Life360 is an app that will give them peace of mind.

For children who are always on the go, sending Mom or Dad a quick “check in” and a note that they are “doing fine” is enough to allay the usual fears and concerns every parent goes through.

8. Udemy

Have you ever wanted to learn how to play the guitar but were discouraged by its 20 frets, cost and total time it may take to strum and pick like John Mayer?

Udemy makes it possible for you to learn guitar, computer programming, photography and other interesting courses at an affordable prices and at your own pace.

Udemy is all about learning. The company’s mission is to help anyone and everyone learn anything.

You don’t have to rack up college debt to be adept at your passion. Many of the courses offered do not cost more than $50. The company also offers some courses free of charge.

Conclusion

These are just eight of the best apps you can use to simplify life and make you more productive. For sure while you were reading this article, software developers are busy at work designing the next big app to hit the market. By tomorrow, another 1,000 apps will make their way to Apple’s App Store or Google Play Store.

It does not mean that you should download every app that makes it to market. Chances are some apps will not be used as often as the others. Having too many apps on your mobile device will slow down its performance and leave you open to being hacked.

In the same manner that apps are designed to simplify your life, simplify your choice of apps. Make an accounting of your daily activities and download the apps with features that meet your needs.

Another helpful tip is to avoid getting apps that have similar functions. For example, if you already have Evernote, you might no longer need to download GetPocket.com which has the similar functions as Evernote’s Web Clipper. However, that being said, we still highly recommend GetPocket.com! Our founder uses both of these daily.

1Password is another good password manager. We use this one as we like the functionality a bit better when we implemented the application. But if you already have LastPass, you should be fine. 

What about you? Which apps do you regularly use to simplify life and generate more productivity at work? Kindly share your experiences with our readers in the comments section below.

If you want to know more about the best apps in the market and which ones you should use to suit your own purpose, please do not hesitate to give us a call or an email.